Presidential Non-Power


In his column today, David Ignatius is pretty good about blaming our recent string of fiscal standoffs on the recklessness of congressional Republicans. But then he ends with this:

So how can we get these incapacitated drivers to stop before they do any more damage? If this were really a case of chronic drinkers, the answer would be an intervention to keep them off the road. In politics, the public gets to intervene through elections. We just had one, and the Republicans lost, big time. Yet it didn’t seem to make much difference. The House Republicans are still grabbing for the wheel, and the car is rumbling toward trouble.

Obama tries everything to gain control — except a clear, firm presidential statement that speaks to everyone onboard, those who voted for him and those who didn’t — that could get the country where it needs to go.

A “firm presidential statement”? Seriously? Where do people come up with this stuff? Obama has made dozens of firm presidential statements, and it’s had precisely zero effect. Republicans couldn’t care less about his firm presidential statements.

There’s a lot of this going around these days, the idea that presidents can magically work their will on a hostile Congress if they’re simply strong enough. This has never really been true, and it’s certainly not true of the 113th Congress, the most hostile in living memory. It’s weird that so many people seem to think otherwise.

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